Thursday, May 17, 2012

The US Census Reports That Less White Babies Are Being Born In The USA

A little-noticed statistic hit the news casts and newspapers this morning. For the first time in US history births of non-white babies equaled 50.4% of the births. It appears that we people of Northern European ancestry are becoming the minority in the USA.

This is troubling to the Tea Party and political conservatives. It's not troubling to me. I spent 6 years in South Africa where people of Northern European ancestry are only 15% of the population. I had no hassles at all in this environment. People were nice to me. I was never discriminated against for jobs, housing bank loans, social life, love life etc. We are entering a world of globalization. Welcome it and do not be frightened of it!

Bids sought for Rwanda tin deposit

Bids sought for Rwanda tin deposit

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Randgold Looks To Engineer Local Support

May 7, 2012 7:34 pm

Randgold looks to engineer local support 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, close to the border with Uganda, Randgold Resources is pressing ahead with work on its Kibali mine in the latest example of how mining companies must juggle local concerns with larger production goals.
A successful ramp-up of operations at the mine, which is expected to yield its first gold by the end of next year, should help lift the FTSE 100 group’s annual gold production from about 700,000 ounces to more than 1m by mid-decade. It also involves the tricky issue of relocating more than 15,000 people from in and around a gold field first developed under Belgian colonial rule.


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In an area scarred by bloody post-colonial conflict that persisted into the past decade, Mark Bristow, Randgold’s chief executive, insists the project has not just won the support of the DRC’s government, but local people who are being relocated into newly built villages. Engineering such support is a delicate matter for major mining companies who are often accused of callously disregarding the welfare of people forced out by mine development.
As Kibali proceeds, concerns over the fate of a sacred mountain worshipped by the 8,000 strong Dongria Kondh tribe in India’s Orissa state has stalled plans by Vedanta Resources, the mining and metals group, to develop a bauxite mine aimed at meeting India’s growing demand for aluminium.
Elsewhere, protests by Andean farmers in Peru late last year saw the destruction of equipment at the Conga gold mine project, backed by Newmont of the US and its local partner Buenaventura. Opposition there has forced suspension of the project amid concerns on water supplies and the broader environmental impact of the venture. A decision to push ahead with that mine’s development is still to be taken.
Yet Kibali work remains on schedule on a project which is 45 per cent owned by Randgold, 45 per cent by AngloGold Ashanti, with the remaining 10 per cent owned by state-controlled Sokimo.
Speaking as Randgold delivered first-quarter results last week, Mr Bristow said a key aim of the Kibali development hds been to secure a “social licence” among local people, on a field that “we rent, rather than own” from the state. As well as winning government support through taxes and investment, Randgold is keen to demonstrate the principle that people who are moved should be better off than before.
Beyond painstaking engagement with the population affected, Randgold as operator of the project has also carefully cultivated support from the Roman Catholic church that is the dominant social institution in the area.
Construction plans for model town of Kokiza, being build to provide new homes for 14 settlements being cleared for the mine project, were unveiled last year.
More than 3,500 houses – built of brick with zinc roofs – are planned to accommodate 15,000 or more. In addition, a Catholic church complex with additional places of worship, along with schools, seven medical centres, public market places and a government office are being built.
People being moved can expect 50 per cent more floor space than their former accommodation, water and electricity connections and full title deed to their new homes, says Mr Bristow.
Building progress has not been entirely smooth, with roofing work needing to be remedied after poor installation. But Mr Bristow estimates construction of the relocation settlement is 40 per cent complete as houses are being built at the rate of 60 a week. That rate of construction, though clearly at a far lower specification than UK homes, has transformed Randgold into one of the FTSE’s leading housebuilders by volume.
Randgold’s approach to Kibali goes beyond many other commitments made by western natural resources companies to win the battle for local support. Such examples include the $50,000 by White Nile Petroleum in social spending in 2006 as it sought to develop disputed oil fields in Southern Sudan ahead of independence. Among items then supplied to garner community support were fish nets, maize grinding machines, brick making machines, generators, and sewing machines.
However, dealing with conflict and disputes over the sovereign ownership of assets, as well as engineering local support for projects, remains a key issue for many natural resources companies.
Randgold remains heavily exposed to Mali, where a return to full civilian rules following a coup in March is still being resolved. Its other main asset is in Ivory Coast, which was hit by a forced suspension of gold sales in 2010 for several months following a disputed presidential election.
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The Real Frontline Of The Chinese In Africa

May 7, 2012 7:17 pm

The real frontline of the Chinese in Africa

Every day, we carry our hearts in our hands”. You hear this Chinese idiom across Africa; it means to live in fear. As one young man said recently: “Every week the police and immigration come and extort money from us, but the Chinese embassy does nothing, they just look down on us. Why do we have to live as if we are thieves?”
The speaker had lost his job in a factory in Fujian province and had travelled thousands of miles to work at a relative’s shop in Angola’s capital, Luanda. He is one of hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrants making a living as traders in Africa, selling everything from food to clothes to household gadgets.

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Their stories belie two myths about China in Africa: that it’s all about commodities, and that China moves as one. They also illustrate why Beijing cannot afford to ignore the immigrants any longer. For over a decade the prevailing image of China’s presence in Africa has been of a monolith, as state-owned energy giants race in offering infrastructure in return for commodities. Now a more complex picture is emerging with different actors, driven by diverse aims and needs, creating new flashpoints for China-Africa relations.
Most Chinese traders arrived in Africa in the past 10 years after failing to find work in China’s hyper-competitive job market. The poorest and least educated of China’s diaspora, they have forged their own pathways in the continent through family and village networks. They do not care about geopolitics or that China’s trade with Africa exceeded $150bn in 2011. What matters is that the barriers to entering Africa’s market are low enough for them to compete, even with few skills, little capital and often no experience of trading.
When Chinese traders first set up shop in Africa’s urban marketplaces and rural outposts, they were seen as a boon to the many poor Africans who were previously unable to buy almost any manufactured product. But today as the most visible Chinese presence traders have become an easy scapegoat for politicians, merchants and labour unions worried by China’s presence.
They are accused of cheating Africans by not paying tax and refusing to use local suppliers; their products are derided as inferior or “Fong-Kong” merchandise. Botswana is one of only a few states to introduce legislation restricting their activities, but others will follow. And more regulation is needed. Chinese traders have done themselves no favours by failing to respect consumer rights – most won’t allow their products to be returned, even when they break – and cloaking their operations in secrecy.
Yet local firms would do well to learn from Chinese small businesses rather than join the backlash. Their comparative advantage lies in their capacity to endure hardship and sacrifices to succeed, even when profit margins are minimal.
Chinese traders also know that if they don’t make it in Africa, they have nowhere else to go. Nearly all plan to return to China eventually or resettle somewhere other than Africa, once they have earned enough money. The education is too poor for their children, the medical care too meagre. And they find African ways and values simply too alien. So they seal themselves off from the societies around them as best they can. The only way to prevent relations from worsening is for China to stop pretending that they don’t exist. Traders do not live in secure compounds and their legal status is often unclear. Since they are not employed by a state-owned firm, Chinese embassies will not intervene on their behalf or pressure African governments to do more to protect them. This may have to change. The most important drama in the China-Africa relationship is playing out on the African street, not in say the oilfields of South Sudan. It is here where most Africans encounter the Chinese presence in Africa and decide whether it is good or bad.
At the very least, they are growing more wary. Rising anti-Chinese sentiment could make life difficult for African governments, whose mining and infrastructure deals with China are central to their countries’ development. Resource-hungry Beijing can ill-afford further damage to the “China brand” in Africa.
Chinese traders are making an impact from Cape Town to Cape Verde. Beijing needs to pay closer attention to them. For better or worse, they are shaping China’s reputation in Africa.
The writer is the Deputy Director of the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation. It recently conducted nearly 200 in-depth interviews with Chinese traders in southern Africa
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